Between wearing tweed ties while grilling chicken thighs or rescuing thrift-store brogues, James Fox runs the brilliant family, food, literature and vintage shopping blog 10engines. Right now, though, he's sharing his considerable style acumen with us.
In the eighties, Orvis, the Vermont-based outdoor outfitter, used locals for its catalog shoots, and it made perfect sense when I learned that "W.B.," a family friend, had been one of their models. He probably owned half the gear in the catalog anyway.
As a civil engineer, W.B. works outdoors in all seasons surveying properties—I was a tripod carrier for him a few times. He once told me how he mapped a section of the Appalachian Trail near Killington, Vermont by sending a guy along it with a large mirror to indicate his position back to a fire tower on top of the mountain. His porch-wrapped office has an old barn out back that is now home to his Army-style Jeep and what he calls "the body shop," a small gym with ancient wooden floors that creak under the rise and fall of dumbbells or the footfalls of skipping rope. "Just do sets of 40 and soon you'll finish 200 chin-ups a day," he once told me. With fishing rods and racks of camouflage lining the walls, this workout area is a portal to old-world masculinity.
I'm not a gun guy, but almost every shooting trip my father or I have been on was with W.B. He invited me along to shoot waterfowl near Fort Ticonderoga, New York, when I was old enough to drive north by myself. I think his directions were, "Meet me there." The same man who loaned me his grandfather's military saber to cut my wedding cake advocates brown brogues with dark-gray suits, circulates a reading list if you feel like joining in, and has a blend of tobacco named after him at the nearby pipe shop. To those who know him, he's a full-blown local legend.